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Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Casey Anthony Found NOT GUILTY of killing daughter

Casey Anthony with her defense attorneys, Jose Baez, left, and Dorothy Clay Sims, as the verdict in her murder trial was read on Tuesday.

ORLANDO — Casey Anthony, the young mother whose seeming heartlessness at the disappearance of her daughter transfixed America for three years, was found not guilty on Tuesday of killing the girl,
After nearly six weeks of testimony, a panel of seven women and five men decided that Ms. Anthony did not murder Caylee by dosing her with chloroform, suffocating her with duct tape and dumping her in a wooded area, as prosecutors claimed. They also did, however, find her guilty of lesser charges, of providing false information to law enforcement officers. The jury did not ask to review any evidence.
When the verdict was read, Ms Anthony, 25, who faced a possible death sentence, cried.
The verdict vindicates the defense, which argued from the start that Caylee drowned accidentally in the family swimming pool and that the death was concealed by her panicked grandfather, George Anthony, and Ms. Anthony.
It also drove home just how circumstantial the prosecution’s case proved to be. Forensic evidence was tenuous and no witnesses ever tied Ms. Anthony to Caylee’s murder. Investigators found no trace of DNA or solid signs of chloroform or decomposition inside the trunk of Ms. Anthony’s car, where prosecutors said Ms. Anthony stashed Caylee before disposing of her body.
The prosecution was also hurt by the fact that nobody knows exactly how Caylee died; her body was too badly decomposed to pinpoint cause of death.
All of this allowed José Baez, Ms. Anthony’s lawyer, to infuse enough reasonable doubt in jurors’ minds to get Ms. Anthony acquitted of murder.
“They throw enough against the wall and see what sticks,” Mr. Baez told the jury, “right down to the cause of death.”
Caylee, a 2-year-old with cherubic cheeks and bright eyes, was last seen June 16, 2008. Her decomposed body was found six months later in a wooded area near the Anthony home. Despite her daughter’s disappearance, Ms. Anthony failed to report Caylee missing for 31 days and created a tangle of lies, including that a baby sitter kidnapped Caylee, to cover up the absence.
The defense conceded Ms. Anthony’s lies but said they happened for one reason: she had been sexually abused by her father and had been coached to lie her whole life.
“I told you she was a liar the first day,” Mr. Baez told the jury.
Despite a vivid portrait of Ms. Anthony’s seemingly callous and deceitful behavior after Caylee’s disappearance, jurors decided that leap from uncaring mother to murderess proved too much.
Prosecutors argued all along that Ms. Anthony killed her child so she could carouse with her boyfriend, go clubbing and live the “bella vita” — beautiful life — as her tattoo, done after Caylee’s disappearance, proclaimed.
“Whose life was better without Caylee?” Linda Drane Burdick, one of the prosecutors, asked jurors. “That’s the only question you need to answer in considering why Caylee Marie Anthony was left on the side of the road dead.”
With that, Ms. Drane Burdick ended her closing statement with a dramatic flourish, leaving behind a split screen image: one side was a photograph of the tattoo, the other was a smiling Ms. Anthony partying with friends after Caylee’s death.
One prosecutor, Jeff Ashton, called it “absurd” that Mr. Anthony, a former homicide detective, would find Caylee dead in the swimming pool and, rather than call 911, cover up the drowning, wrap dead Caylee’s face with duct tape and dump her body.
“It is a trip down a rabbit hole into a bizarre world where men who love their granddaughters find them drowned and do nothing,” Mr. Ashton said. “Where men who love their granddaughters take an accident, a completely innocent act, and make it look like a murder for no reason.”

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